Adult video game players often unhealthy

By Tom Nordlie • Published: December 28th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

At first glance, video games don’t seem like a health threat.

Sitting in a chair and pushing buttons, you don’t risk injury, except maybe carpal tunnel syndrome.

But research shows that young players can suffer from weight problems, aggressive behavior and delinquency.

According to a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, adults aren’t immune to the negative effects of video games, either.

In the study, researchers surveyed more than five-hundred adults in the Seattle-Tacoma area, which has the nation’s highest level of Internet usage.

Overall, forty-five percent of respondents played video games. Fifty-six percent of the gamers were men.

The survey asked about the importance of video games in participants’ lives, and how much time they spent playing.

Other questions asked for self-assessments of depression, health status, personality and social activity.

The results showed that video game players spent more time using the Internet and television than nonplayers. They also reported less social support from family and friends.

Compared with other men, male gamers were more likely to have high body mass index, a measure of weight to height.

Female gamers were more likely to be depressed and report poor overall health, compared with other women.

The researchers speculated that women use video games to escape their problems, whereas men use games to socialize.

So perhaps intervention strategies aimed at reducing video game use should be gender-specific.

By offering alternatives that satisfy the need to escape or socialize, scientists may be able to encourage players to shut off the games and plug into real life a bit more.